Intro to sleep apnea and snoringMarch feels like it was more than three months ago, but before everything went a little haywire, our office went to a Sleep Apnea Seminar in Chicago to learn more about snoring and sleep apnea! In the two days of us being there, we learned so much about the causes, the health consequences, and the treatment for a truly crafty disease.

Causes

In Chicago, we learned of several causes for snoring and sleep apnea. To be clear, snoring is a symptom and can be connected to full sleep apnea, but that is not always the case. Sleep apnea is when the airway is completely closed for 10 seconds or more. Snoring is only a partial closure of the airway. That awful sound coming from your partner (or you) is a result of tissues in the mouth or airway hitting against each other as air tries to pass into the lungs. Some of these factors might be an enlarged tongue, swollen tonsils, or structural problems such as a small jaw. So ask yourself this: Do you feel tired or wake up with headaches? Do you toss and turn throughout the night? It might be from any of these issues!

Health Consequences

What’s incredible is the link between sleep apnea and the variety of health issues it can lead to. Untreated, sleep apnea can lead to an increased risk of heart problems, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, and accidents at work or while driving a vehicle. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 35% of all people with high blood pressure have obstructed sleep apnea. Approximately 60% of patients who have had a stroke have obstructed sleep apnea. Sleep deprivation makes it difficult to focus and stay alert, leading to more accidents on the road and at work.

Treatment

Sleep appliances used for TMJ and sleep apneaNormally the first thought of treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP. A CPAP is a “Continuous Positive Air Pressure” device which forces air into the patient’s nose via an air compressor. For some, this is the ultimate solution and allows for deeper sleep while fixing any loud snoring issues. For others, they are unable to use a CPAP due to discomfort, the noise the pump makes, reoccurring sinus infections, etc. Here’s where the dentistry fits in: Fox Valley Dental is able to make various sleep appliances for mild to moderate sleep apnea. They all work by either pulling the mandible forward to open the airway, or to reposition the tongue and open the airway. Every case is different, so Fox Valley Dental starts with a Sleep Consultation to see where the patient falls in severity and goes from there!

Fox Valley Dental is committed to helping our patients not only with their dental health, but their overall health as well. Sleep is so important for daily routines and function. And as noted, can affect several other health factors in the body. If you or someone you know exhibits any signs or symptoms of sleep apnea, give our office a call! We’ll help you begin your journey to better sleep.